JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOX/ Capitol Bureau) – One of the state’s biggest teacher organizations told lawmakers they don’t want teachers carrying firearms in the classroom.
“We just think at best it would not be of any use, and at worst it could be very dangerous,” said Otto Fajen, a representative from the Missouri branch of the National Education Association.
Fajen’s comments came in response to a bill introduced to the House General Laws Committee, on Tuesday. Rep. Doug Funderburk, R-St. Peter’s, presented a gun bill that contains provisions that would allow teachers to carry guns on school property.
According to the NEA website, a survey conducted directly after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting determined that 68 percent of NEA members opposed the carrying of firearms by school teachers. Fajen mirrored this response in an opposition testimony for Funderburk’s bill. In a phone interview, Fajen said their focus is keeping schools safe and this bill would interfere with that.
Fajen said the chance for mishaps with a hidden weapon on school grounds is far too strong. He said the lawmakers promoting this bill are doing so without fully considering the risk and liability it would impose on the teachers it would affect. Fajen said instead firearms should be placed in the hands of full-time law enforcement officials and allow them to protect the school so teachers can focus on being educators.
Funderburk was not available for comment.
The Senate moved a similar bill forward on Monday evening; although the education aspect of this corresponding bill was muted due to a five-hour filibuster by Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D- St. Louis.
Nasheed was unsuccessful in adding her amendment that would require gun owners to report gun theft within a 72-hour window, but she was successful in bringing attention to the influence of the Missouri branch of the National Rifle Association on lawmakers. Nasheed’s amendment was initially passed, until the NRA expressed their opposition for the provision.
The removal of Nasheed’s amendment was briefly acknowledged by one representative during the hearing in the House General Laws Committee.
“What person in their right mind would not want people to report stolen guns,” Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis said.